What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

 

I love this song written by Frank Loesser in 1947.

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Apparently it was not created for a particular movie or show.

And Mr. Loesser thought that it was fine to sing it any time of the year — because it is about someone who is in the early stages of a romantic relationship who is thinking ahead…

I recorded it with Doug Hammer when I was putting together an hour-long program of winter holiday songs written or co-written by Jewish lyricist and/or composers.

Mr. Loesser started off as a lyricist, collaborating with Jule Styne (with whom he co-wrote “I Don’t Want To Walk Without You, Baby”), and Hoagy Carmichael (with whom he co-wrote “Heart and Soul), and other composers in New York and in California.

During WWII he joined the military and helped to create original musical shows which could easily be produced with minimal costumes, props and scenery at military bases and camps all around the globe as a way to boost the morale of the troops at home and abroad.

It was during this time that he became more confident about composing the music to go with his lyrics — and one of first hit songs for which he wrote both music and lyrics was “Praise the Lord and Pass The Ammunition.”

After WWII his career as a songwriter gained momentum.

He wrote songs for the hit musical WHERE’S CHARLEY? — which gave us the standard “Once In Love With Amy” sung by Ray Bolger (who had starred as The Scarecrow in the movie version of THE WIZARD OF OZ many years earlier).

RayBolger

Then he wrote songs for the musical GUYS AND DOLLS, which was a huge hit when it opened on Broadway in 1950 and which — almost seventy years later — continues to be performed all around the USA and beyond…

He expanded from writing lyrics and music to writing the libretto (script) as well for his masterwork THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, which was as much an opera as it was a Broadway show.

Anthony-perkins-greenwillow

His other shows include GREENWILLOW — starring a young Anthony Perkins, which was not a hit — and HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT TRYING, which was a hit and won the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

He also wrote songs — including “Inchworm” and “Thumbelina” for a successful movie about Hans Christian Anderson starring Danny Kaye.

DannyKayeHansChristianAnderson

And he won an Academy award in 1949 for his song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which he had originally written as a fun duet for him and his first wife, Lynn to perform at parties.

Loesser2

She was apparently very upset when he sold “their song” to MGM FOR a movie called NEPTUNE’S DAUGHTER starring Esther Williams.

In recent years this song has generated some controversy since the lyrics involve a man (called “the wolf” in the original sheet music) seducing a woman (called “the mouse” in the original sheet music) using persistence, charm, and alcohol.

Since relatively few books have been written about Mr. Loesser, his daughter Susan Loesser penned a book called A Most Remarkable Fella: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life.

It is very candid and informative about Mr. Loesser — who does not sound like he was  the easiest or the happiest guy to work with. In fact he infamously slapped one of the original leads in GUYS AND DOLLS, Isabel Bigley, during rehearsals because he did not like the way she was interpreting one of his songs.

IsabelBigley

However, he was extremely supportive of up-and-coming songwriters and helped nurture the careers of Meredith Willson (THE MUSIC MAN), Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (THE PAJAMA GAME and DAMN YANKEES), and even Stephen Sondheim, who received a very supportive and empathetic letter from Frank after one of Sondheim’s early musicals, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, closed after only nine performances.

Mr. Loesser was also a lifelong three-pack-a-day smoker, and died in 1969 at age 59 from lung cancer.

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Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

As another year — and another decade — draws to a close, I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog during the past six years to read and listen.

And the wonderful photographers whose work has graced my blog posts.

Also all the folks with whom I have made music during this past year!

This next decade is a make-or-break one for human beings here on planet earth.

We have ten years — or less!!! — to change the way we consume resources before climate change will swing more and more out of balance in un-imaginable, catastrophic, and un-fixable ways.

I have no idea what a contemporary human society which consumes only sustainable/renewable amounts of food and water and fuel and natural resources would look like.

But I deeply hope we are all able to WAKE UP and STOP CONSUMING fossil fuels and plastic items and unnecessary consumer goods and air travel and vacations-to-far-away-places, and car travel, and excessive food and water so that future generations of beings — human and otherwise — can exist on this lovely planet.

Many of us have somehow been raised to feel we are entitled to consume/enjoy/waste natural resources simply because we want to consume/enjoy/waste them — with no consideration or reflection about how our choices and actions affect the larger web of sustainable life here on planet earth.

This Christmas I gave copies of several books — The Overstory by Richard Powers and The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Life of Animals, and The Secret Wisdom of Nature by Peter Wohlleben — to various family members.

Overstory

I was slightly ambivalent to buy and give books (made from dead trees, after all…) about how amazing and wise and generous and precious trees are to life here on planet earth.

But I am hoping that sharing these books will help with the process of AWAKENING all of us human beings to the extraordinary web of life — of which we are merely one (albeit an often-times astoundingly ignorant and destructive) strand.

Another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

I will be hanging out with family in upstate New York this New Year’s Eve.

ChristianneJasperAriannaRyder

I learned yesterday from my older sister that the hens started laying more eggs as soon as the days started getting longer here in the northern hemisphere.

ChristianneChickens

How amazingly calibrated to subtle changes in light they are!

And I bore witness to the sheeps’ concern about getting their fair share of the grain which my sisters feed them each evening.

I learned from a television program earlier this year that a wide variety of animals — not just sheep — are very aware of what IS and is NOT equitable.

ChristianneSheepRunning

Here we are walking the sheep to a temporary pasture area in another field.

The snow has almost all melted due to several days of non-freezing weather including rain…

ChristiyOnIceanneBo

Here is one of my nephews testing fate by walking on a previously frozen stream…

Tomorrow night after evening chores are done, we will drive to the next town and cook a small feast with cousins.

Then we will play ukuleles, sing, and reflect upon the past year.

What are YOU doing New Year’s Eve?

33 thoughts on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

  1. Thank you for the song, the information about Frank Loesser, and for sharing the animal facts and family photos. It sounds like you will have a lovely New Year’s Eve.
    I think we may see a movie and have Chinese food (a tradition of many years). Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • Thank you, Cindy. And thank you for this great GIF of New Year’s Eve in Paris!!! There will be no fireworks for us in upstate NY… Health and peace and gorgeous photographic wishes for you in 2020!

  2. Hi Will. Thanks for the song, history on Frank, and concern for the planet and how we live on it. I too hope we wake up and learn to live in harmony. Meanwhile, I’ll be home on new years eve crying in my loneliness/ reveling in my singleness. 🙂

  3. What a fabulous post, Will! I had no idea he wrote so many songs for so many wonderful musicals. I always loved Danny Kaye in the Hans Christian Anderson movie. Enjoy your New Years’s Eve with family on the farm. Perfect!

    • Yes, he contributed a bunch of great songs to the Great American Songbook. Thank you, as always, for reading and listening AND for writing YOUR delightful and inspiring blog posts. One sister is making a beautiful cole slaw out of red cabbage, green cabbage, watermelon radish and carrot while another makes an apple pie. I (happily) wash a lot of dishes.

    • Hurrah for cozy indoor-ness with JDS and jds!!! I sit in my sisters’ kitchen while new Australian cattle dog/Australian shepherd teenager dog chews on a wide variety of allowed objects… More music in 2020!

  4. Hi Will!! Love this song – thanks for the back story and update. Happy new year from me and Sebastian. We think of you often (“buttons, buttons, buttons! ziiiiiiiip!”) and wish you the best for 2020. -Dawn

    • Hi, Dawn!!!! How lovely to find a former Music Together family leaving a comment on my blog! I will happily think about you and Sebastian for decades to come… You started (if I am remembering correctly) in Belmont and then returned, blessedly, for more musical fun in Arlington. Button, button, button, ziiiiiiiiip to both of you in 2020!

  5. I’ve always been a fan of Frank Loesser songs and enjoyed hearing you sing this one. A year or so ago the Globe reported that Larry Sousa was developing at Boston Conservatory a musical combining Loesser songs and Damon Runyon characters to be called “Another Roll of the Dice.” Do you know anything about it? The Loesser estate offered writer Mark Saltzman use of any song that hadn’t already been in a musical. How I’d love to see this!

    • This sounds intriguing!!!! I do not know anything about it, but I will see what I can find out… There are definitely some strong Loesser songs (“I’d Like To Get You On A Slow Boat To China” springs immediately to mind…) that were not written for a musical.

  6. Another delightful and thoughtful combo: trip down Memory Lane and important message about climate change. Enjoyed your song.

    I watched a PBS program about penguins in Antarctica tonight: some are heading for extinction; others are adapting. Which will we be?

    Breathe in, breathe out, for sure! WP left my latest post off Reader on Saturday (it’s there now). I titled it “Don’t You Think the World Needs a Little More Anger Management? Here’s a Way That Just May Help.” I learned some interesting things in my research.

    Hope 2020 is a kinder, gentler year. You’re doing your part, and I thank you!

    • I love the idea of 2020 being kinder and gentler! We shall see which species are able to adapt to the rather extraordinary changes on the horizon… Thank you for finding time to read and listen!

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